Thanksgiving Traditions

Thanksgiving break tends to be a challenging time for college students when it comes to making holiday decisions. With the distraction of midterms ending and finals right around the corner, the holidays are approaching quickly. Furthermore, the Thanksgiving break being only four days long, students with family out of the area might decide not to make the long journey home this year. But have no fear! If you’re a Notre Dame de Namur University student who feels the pressure of Thanksgiving being only a week away and have yet to make plans, we’ve got some suggestions for you.

Commuter student Victor Estoque celebrates Thanksgiving in a somewhat unique way. For the past five years, Estoque and 39 of his buddies get together at 4 am on Thanksgiving morning to play in an ice hockey tournament they call the Annual Turkey Cup. “There are two teams of twenty guys. It’s a lot of fun; we play for a trophy and this year is the fifth year we’re doing it. The past four years are tied in wins so this year will be the tie breaker.” One team is called the Cranberry Sauces, while the other is called the Turkey Stuffers. “After we play, I go home and sleep, usually until dinner is ready.”

Resident student Tamara Qutmiera’s family is close enough for her to travel home for the holidays. This year, Qutmiera’s family will continue their annual Thanksgiving tradition of going to Groveland. “Every year we go to Pine Mountain Lake, my parents, cousins, aunts, uncles, everybody. We have a cabin up there and it’s a great place to get away for the short break.” Qutmiera and her family cook a traditional Thanksgiving dinner and spend the four day weekend together.

Resident student Eddie Carrasco Jr. won’t be going home this year for Thanksgiving, since his family is a 10 hour drive away from NDNU. “I have too much homework to have to worry about 20 hours of drive time. I would fly but I can’t afford it. Plus my mom wants me to focus on finishing the semester strong. She said we’ll celebrate double on Christmas, which I definitely won’t miss.” Carrasco is going to take advantage of the four day weekend to catch up on his studies and prepare for finals, which are quickly approaching. However, he’s not going to completely ignore the family holiday. “I plan on skyping my family on Thursday, then I’ll get together with some friends and have a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner in my apartment,” Carrasco assures that while it won’t be as good as his mother’s, it’s the quality time with his friends that counts.

However, if you’re fortunate enough to spend Thanksgiving with your family and you’re looking to impress your family with your master cooking skills, offer to bring dessert. Take some weight off your mom’s Thanksgiving schedule; the mini pumpkin cheesecake recipe below is sure to be a hit at your family dinner.


Mini Pumpkin Swirled Cheesecakes Recipe

Prep time: 20 mins Cook time: 30 mins Serves: 12


For the crust:

  • 7 graham cracker sheets –crushed
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 5 Tablespoon sugar
  • 5 Tablespoon unsalted butter –melted

For the cheesecake:

  • 16 oz. cream cheese –softened
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 egg white

For the pumpkin swirl:

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 teaspoon all-purpose flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F and line a standard muffin pan with cupcake liners (if you are using paper liners, it is suggested that you double them)
  2. Crush the graham cracker sheets into fine crumbs. In a medium bowl, stir in the cinnamon and sugar, then add melted butter and mix with a fork until the crumbs are evenly moistened.
  3. Place graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner (about 1 heaping Tablespoon in each cup) and press down the crumbs, set aside.
  4. To make the cheesecake filling: in a large bowl, mix softened cream cheese until smooth, then mix in powdered sugar and vanilla extract. Mix until just combined. Add egg whites one at a time, but turn the mixture on low speed (DO NOT OVER BEAT IT), until completely combined.
  5. To make the pumpkin swirl: in a medium bowl mix together the pumpkin puree, cinnamon, allspice and flour, then add 2/3 cup of the cheesecake mixture to the pumpkin mixture and stir with a spatula.
  6. Divide half the plain cheesecake batter evenly between the muffin cups. Scoop about 1 Tablespoon of the pumpkin mixture on top and cover with the remaining cheesecake batter (liners should be filled almost to the top).
  7. Using remaining pumpkin mixture make 3-4 dots on each of the cheesecakes and swirl with a toothpick.
  8. Bake for 30 minutes (rotating the pan halfway through the baking time)
  9. Cool them completely and store in refrigerator.

Taize for Healing

During the months of September, October and November, the Notre Dame de Namur University Office of Spirituality will be collaborating with the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church, located here in Belmont, to host community Taizé prayer services.

Taizé, pronounced tay-zay, is a form of prayer that originated in France in 1940. Although originally intended for young people, Taizé is practiced by people of all ages around the world. Over the years, Taizé transformed itself into an entire movement dedicated to peace and justice through prayer, meditation, and song.

Amy Jobin, the Director of Spirituality at NDNU, teamed up with the Reverend of Good Shepherd to put on the Taizé prayer services. She and the church welcome and encourage all to attend the services. Jobin stated that we live in a very fast world and while our schedules can be very hectic, it is important that we take the time to give ourselves a break. “That is one way they find healing and calm in a busy world,” said Jobin when discussing why people practice Taizé. “All day long, we are constantly building up and building up, as we are pushing and striving towards our goals. Meditation and contemplative prayer gives us the time to allow ourselves to deconstruct as we reflect on our lives,” said Jobin.

Along with a few other religion and philosophy classes, the Challenged by Christian Ethics class taught by Dr. Hamilton here on campus will be providing some of the art for the Taize services at Good Shepherd. Jobin contacted Dr. Hamilton to organize this art project. In order to educate the students on Taize and the beautiful artwork that goes with it, Jobin attended one of Dr. Hamilton’s class sessions.

Art is significant in the practice of Taize, as it gives followers a source of inspiration. Typical Taize art features a person who represents a positive archetype. The person can be anyone deemed inspirational, from a saint to a leader, such as Martin Luther King Jr., to one’s grandmother. The art presented in this article is of Sister Dorothy Stang of NDNU, who was killed in Brazil during her attempts to save the Amazon Rainforest.

The Taizé services at Good Shepherd reflect a community led prayer with no particular leader. Each service begins with singing, led by musicians, followed by the reading of Scripture. After, there is a ten to fifteen minute period of quiet meditation and lastly, the service ends with prayer. These services, held every third Wednesday of each month at Good Shepherd, start at 7:30 pm and last one hour. Good Shepherd is located at 1300 5th Avenue in Belmont. It is recommended that students who want to attend the services meet on campus and drive to the church together.